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PEF returns to endorsing Cuomo; sealing most labor support

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announcement a

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announcement a $10 million for Central to rebuild downtown Central lslip at Touro Law School in Centeral Islip Wednesday Aug. 8, 2018. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

ALBANY – One of the state’s largest public worker unions endorsed the re-election bid of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday, mostly sealing a rift in important labor support going into the Democratic primary.

The union, the Public Employees Federation, had endorsed Cuomo's liberal oppnent, Zephyr Teachout, in the 2014 Democratic primary. Teachout is running for attorney general this year.

Thursday’s endorsement by the 54,000-member PEF union follows endorsements for Cuomo’s third term by the New York State AFL-CIO, the Civil Service Employees Association, the Service Employees International Union, and others.

The New York State United Teachers union declined to endorse a candidate. NYSUT is close to the Alliance for Quality Education lobbing group, which is a major supporter of Cuomo’s primary opponent, education activist Cynthia Nixon.

Many union leaders have noted Cuomo’s fight against President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Congress and their efforts to erode rights for unions.

“While rabid, anti-union forces try to threaten and destroy our movement, Governor Cuomo has our backs,” said Wayne Spence, PEF president. “He has proven to be a champion who will fight for workers’ rights and ensure that union labor in New York is stronger than ever.”

“This state will continue to lead the way in fighting back against the Trump administration as they seek to undo the progress we have achieved,” Cuomo said.

Nixon is endorsed by the Working Families Party, which includes union leaders as well as several Democratic and progressive political groups.

"Rank-and-file union members have a long memory," said Nixon spokeswoman Lauren Hitt. "He's only now an election-year friend." 

She had no immediate comment Thursday.

The primary is Sept. 13. The winner will face Republican nominee Marc Molinaro.

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